New Toys

20 02 2008

Well I finally made it.  A month now where the money will just keep flowing.  This is the only time of year when I get three big bangs all within 3 months.  Tax returns, Profit Sharing Bonus at work, and Management Bonus at work.  The first wave this year went to pay off my folks for being ever so generous in helping me keep my head above water this fall and winter.  I seem to have this problem of every time it rains it pours.  It spent a LOT of time pouring this winter.  Today it was profit sharing time at work.  I can’t elaborate much but employees of my company get a certain percentage of their gross earnings back each year as a bonus IF the store you work at is profitable.  We were so I got my bonus.  By the time you get to be a manager this bonus can add up to several thousand dollars.  I got Three.

The first grand went to uncle sam.  It seems that you can’t avoid the luxury tax on this type of bonus.  The second thousand has been set aside and earmarked specifically for credit card debt and car related expenses.  The third thousand is MINE.   I didn’t get to spend any money this year on myself or Jirar at Christmas because money was so tight.  Everything I had went to gifts for other people.  No biggie, that happens a lot.  I buy for everyone else before I buy for myself.  This is my turn.

Today I purchased a new camera that I have been looking at now for a few months.  I take a LOT of pictures and after Jirar dropped our Sony Cybershot into Crystal River last summer, its never worked the same so this is the replacement.  It’s a huge step up as far as features and quality and it will NOT be going canoing with us this summer!  We’ll save the Sony for that.  There is a story to this but it’s likely only interesting to me but I’ll post it anyhow.

Like I said, I’ve been looking at this camera now for a few months.  I’ve researched it on-line, I’ve gone to Best Buy and played with it, I’ve asked other photographers I know what they think of it.  Everything I read and everyone I talk with has said this is a great camera.  So today after work, I went to Best Buy to purchase it.  Now, if I were not so damm impatient, I could have purchased this camera on-line and had it shipped to me for less money than what I paid today but I’m impatient.  I went into Best Buy and waited for a sales person to help me.  I waited, and waited, and waited, and…

Clearly Best Buy was not interested in my business.  Multiple employees passed me, not a single one of them asked if I needed help, not one of them appeared to be doing much at all.  Since I’m a sales manager by trade, I never miss an opportunity to test our competition.  My actions were obvious, I made eye contact, gestures etc that would have suggested to any attentive sales person that I was at the very least in need of some help.  I tend to make people work for my business.  I don’t think it’s rude and in fact the residual payoff for YOU the sales person is quite great if you give me the time of day.  Too bad Best Buy, you didn’t and YOU lost a sale today.

I strolled out of the store, got in my car and left.  I headed over to Ritz Photo in the mall.  I had done my research you see and Ritz was the same price as Best Buy.  I didn’t go there initially BECAUSE I HATE THE MALL.  I’ll be going to Ritz now for my photography needs.  I was greeted, asked how I was doing, what I was looking for, etc. etc.  Because I already knew what I wanted the guys there didn’t have to work very hard at all.  They knew I had done my homework and they were eager to help.  I purchased the camera, a new memory card, and a new set of rechargeable batteries and a carrying case.  I also purchased something that I don’t normally purchase.  I got a SERVICE AGREEMENT (EKKKKKSSSSSSS!!!!!!).

I am usually very hesitant to purchase service agreements or extended warranties.  In fact, nearly everything I read about these for digital cameras said DON’T buy them, you won’t use it.  This one is a little different though and it takes into consideration how I use the camera.   This agreement actually covers normal wear and tear from NORMAL AND ABNORMAL USE including UNINTENTIONAL abuse, shock, or trauma!  That means that if I am hiking pyramid point this summer and drop the camera down the 500′ vertical cliff and it comes apart in the sand, I will get a new camera.  I purchased a 2 year plan because in 2 years, I intend to go back to Ritz and purchase a D-SLR camera as I increase my knowledge and skill level as a photographer.  The next step in equipment is the big leagues.  This camera will teach me how to use the manual settings and it will prepare me for the challenges (and big pay-offs) of the professional level D-SLR cameras that I will eventually purchase.  See what I mean about residual pay off?  The sales person at Ritz has a customer who will come back because he took a minute to give a shit about making a sale.

Anyhow, this was a LONG post to not really say much.  Here is a photo take with the new camera and slightly edited in Photoshop.  The detail and closeness of this picture was not possible with my other camera.  There will be plenty more to come and there will be more posted at www.leelanauphotography.com as well.  This is Pooh.

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My Mile Marker

11 11 2007

Dam it all to hell. Ok so I started using this new web browser (see earlier post) that has an integrated blog platform so I could blog while viewing web sites (ya I know I’m such a freaking geek) and I had a nice long post about this web site My Mile Marker that I tried to save as a draft. Well, it’s gone, lost, somewhere in cyber land. So I’m starting over, this time from the WordPress web site editor so I know it won’t be lost. God I hate technology sometimes.

ANYHOW………..

If you have not figured it out already, I’m a tech geek and I love stupid useless web sites and internet crap. I’ve started using a web site called mymilemarker.com to keep track of a few things pertaining to my driving habits and what it’s costing me. If you’ve not seen this web site you really should sign up for it and do it. It requires you to do three things. When you fill up your tank at a gas station you need to write down your current odometer reading, the number of gallons you put in your vehicle and the cost per gallon. From those 3 things, this web site develops forecasts and trends that show you where you will be at a date in the future determined by you. Here are my figures. I’ve set the end date of the forecast at October 27, 2008. So, by that date I will have:

1: 153401 miles on my car (a 20000 increase from today – pretty accurate if I stay in Leelanau County)

2: I will average 27 miles per gallon (a bit high for my make and model car but not that far off since all my miles are highway miles

3: I will have spent $2577.79 on fuel.

Check out my history:

Date Odometer Gallons Price MPG
November 11th, 2007 (DeleteLoading...) 131043 10.67 $3.279 N/A
November 5th, 2007 130601 9.06 $3.199 N/A
November 2nd, 2007 130356 10.94 $3.199 27.03
October 31st, 2007 130178 6.02 $2.989 N/A
October 25th, 2007 129957 10.35 $2.899 N/A

Look at the cost per gallon of gas since October 25! There are also cool little graphs and other things on the web site too that show these numbers visually. Anyhow, if you like geeky things it’s pretty cool. It’s also quite useful for asking the question: WHAT THE FUCK ARE WE DOING ABOUT GAS PRICES? WHY ARE WE NOT HAVING A MASSIVE REVOLT?





First Snow

7 11 2007

Well today we had our first snow!  Nothing stuck to the ground but it did snow none the less.  Now that I’m a non-smoker I didn’t get to go outside to enjoy it at all (not that I tolerate 50mph wind very well anyhow) but I did watch it for a little bit out the back door at work.  Things have REALLY quieted down at work lately.  I’ve been running solo nearly all day every day and I hate that.  Nothing like feeling you are an overpaid stock boy (when your title says manager).  When you are the only one there, you do all the things that have to be done.  There is nobody there to delegate to, nobody to check up on, nobody to talk to.  This is the time of year I wish I was in an urban market that stays busy all the time.  Things slow down everywhere but up here they come to a screeching halt for 4 months out of the year.

So I should explain perhaps my previous post.  Since Sarah called me on my rather sour attitude.  I’m not sure what my problem is except that I hate being separated from Jirar for such long periods of time.  It makes me irritable.  I hate even more that when he comes home for a couple days the roommate has to consume him for as much time as she can from what I can only believe is a jealousy problem.  I hate it that money is VERY tight even with a roommate and that I can’t get ahead right now and going into winter that is very problematic.  I hate it that I always have to be nice to people and that you, my  readers, get screwed because this is the only outlet I have to bitch about people, places and things because I would never say half this shit to anyone to their faces because I’m too nice a person.  I guess people should feel fortunate that I do vent here because at least when I see you in person, I might smile at you rather than yell at you.  SO, do I need an attitude adjustment?  Ya, I likely do.  Do I think I’m unjustified in being an ass every now and then?  No, really I don’t.  Clearly I’m not in this funk all the time so just give me some time, I’ll get over myself.





How Much Wood?

29 09 2007

It’s that time of year again.  I have a backyard with a huge pile of wood, now I need to go sort and stack it all in the garage so we are ready for the winter.  Having a bit of a hard time motivating myself to do this work today.  It’s sunny, beautiful, and I’d much rather do something else.  Oh well, it has to get done.

Today marks 1 full week of NO SMOKING!  This little adventure has actually been easier than I thought it would be.  Work has actually helped a great deal.  My team members (most of them) are ex-smokers so they have been very helpful and encouraging to me with the quitting process.  I’ve been using the Nicotine patch and that has significantly lessened the withdraw symptoms and I’m using my health insurance web site that has a smoking cessation program on line with articles and interactive tools to keep myself busy.  I’ve quit before (for about a year) but I don’t think I really had the same motivation to quit as I do now.  The reasons to quit are many but I think for me one of the most important reasons is realizing the amount of money I was sucking away each week.  Figure an average of $5 a pack and generally I was smoking 6 packs a week.  That translates to $30 a week or $1560.00 a year I was spending just to support an unhealthy habit!  There are SO many other things I would rather spend my money on right now!  This week, just to congratulate myself, I went out and spent $30 on a new pair of jeans.  I NEVER buy things for myself because I never had the extra money to do it.  When open enrollment comes around this fall for my retirement 401K program at work, I have decided that I will contribute the $30 I would have spent on smoking to my 401K.  I’ve got some catching up to do with the retirement program…this will help!

I took the dog for a hike up to Pyramid Point yesterday.  It was just beautiful.  The colors are starting to come out and there is a little chill in the air.  That hike is no joke!  Steep grade and not a great trail.  The payoff is great though, you can see for miles up there.  Check out the picture!

Jirar comes home tomorrow for a couple days.  He’s found his groove now as a flight attendant and seems to really like his new job.  I’m glad he’s found something now that he really enjoys.  I hated seeing him just get pissed off dealing with dip-shits at Meijer.  That’s one thing about retail, your job will only ever be as good as the people you have to work with every day.  If they don’t want to be there, it can be awfully hard to find the motivation to succeed yourself.

Anyhow, now I’m off to split wood.  I will be trying to write as much as possible as I continue my efforts to quit smoking.  When I have something to do all the time, the urges are less and I get a LOT more done!